I’m Bree, 29, instructional assistant in special education in an elementary school in Indiana, single, various amounts of odd, and well, I suppose I am getting ahead of myself, lets start from the beginning.
Picture it, England, 1987, a woman doesn’t realize she is in labour though it is her third child so she is slow heading to the hospital and ends up delivering in the hospital she wasn’t intending to in Ipswich, and ta da! Bree was born, though the birth certificate lists my name as Brionna Geraldine Brown, quite a wordy mouthful. We lived in England for a few more years where I had a nanny and other caregivers that spoiled me rotten and sort of solidified the fact that I would always feel like England was my home, that my main identity was English. So there you have it, label one, English.
We moved to the states, Florida, Panama City, if you need more exacts in the small town within the city called Parker, just a stones throw from the Air Force base, I was raised around many different nationalities, was raised to respect them and cherish the difference not judge them. It was a pretty nice life. The accent was driven out by speech classes upon entrance to American schooling, but internally I knew who I was. Labels number two and three come from this time, Stubborn and Proud.
From Florida, now that my sister was off to university and my brother was doing his own thing, they are six and nine years older than me respectively, my parents and I moved to Georgia just a month before the start of my eighth grade year. Here I learned what I hadn’t seen in Florida outside of on tv and in movies. Racism was still a thing and if you didn’t fit in with peoples standards of what you should be you could find that poison aimed at you from people that shared your same skin tone. This is when I shrank back into myself under constant questions of “Why do you talk like a white girl?” “Why don’t you listen to rap music?” “Why do you dress like that?” “Why are you always reading?” “Why are you who you are instead of being who we feel you should be?” It didn’t take me long to gain my next label, number four if you are keeping track, Flawed.
I made it through the last year of middle school and made my own group of friends, one of the first truly interracial group of friends in the school that worked well together. We knew that together we could be who we were without fear of judgment in the group. As high school began some of the friendships strengthened and grew, others changed or faded but I am forever grateful to them for standing with me. It was in high school when my love for reading grew even more, my nose was always in a book. I found that I could tune the world out, all of the noise and judgment that came from label four and just escape to worlds where it didn’t matter. And so came label five, one that I will never shake off, Nerd. That label led me to continue choir, to join marching band (colorguard), and to even dive into theatre. That label of nerd gave me the sixth label though it is two words, Passionate Artist. Poetry, music, dance, acting, it was all there for me to express myself. Sadly despite the Stubbornness and Pride I had as a youth the words from peers, other black peers did sink in and that label of Flawed grew into this dark part of myself, I was emotional, felt worthless, considered suicide more than once, found myself experimenting with self harm, and so came the labels I didn’t have a name for then but now know that they are Depression and Anxiety, numbers seven and eight.
With those labels I stopped excelling in subjects that usually came easy, I would spend more and more times in my books or online roleplaying characters that were so much more than I was and writing their story because my own wasn’t worth living in. This took me out of high school and into college, still with all of my labels but the weight of the last two holding me down. I failed out after the first year and a half. I made friends online that I could talk to that were as broken and held down with labels as I was. People I could call when experiencing my first panic attack sure that I was dying and not wanting to do it alone. People that I don’t know anymore but that meant so much to me, people that kept me going when I wanted to give up.
I went back to school though, a million major changes later and I ended up with an associates in Special Education a job as a nanny and caregiver and I found label number nine, Nurturer, I was reminded of my love of caring for my friends and anyone that needed it, cooking for them, listening to them, doing what they needed me to do in order to be sure that they were okay. I learned to balance it out with age and not give too much of myself and forget to give to myself to maintain the balance.
I am aware that in this story of my life I never mentioned relationships past friendship, there were a few, ones that changed me for the better and far too many to change me for worse. I thought something was wrong with me for so many years because I didn’t just fall into love with anyone, I didn’t want to just like someone for the sake of liking them as many of my friends did, I didn’t look at people and want to latch them to me. I needed to know them, and in knowing them I would love them, in knowing them I would want to know them in more physical ways. This last label took a long time to work out, a lifetime of confusion, heartache, and just pain at not feeling like I was right inside. Label ten is Demisexual maybe even with some otherness that can only be labeled as queer. I want that fairy tale thing but I need it to be with someone that is accepting of me and all of my labels.
Who I am is a complex mixture of all of these labels, the percentages constantly shifting, and some days it is hard to just be me, but I am trying. I hope this made some small amount of sense, even if it didn’t I feel better having put it out there.